The Remarkable Purpose of the Lightning Flash
As man explores all of which is around him, new understandings are continually learned. Things once thought to be fact, like belief in the Earth being flat, are realized to be false. By the asking of questions, challenging the facts, pondering beliefs, courage to explore, or investigating different possibilities, man discovers. Francis Bacon surely stated it best; “Wonder is the seed of Knowledge.”
The lightning flash is one such wonder man has long since marveled at. Its powerful force and commanding appearance in the sky led man to contemplate its purpose. Early man often associated uncontrollable acts of nature to be brought about or be from the gods. The brilliant flashes, causing fires; destroying, but generating new life, were frequently understood as the gods passing punishments or purifying the earth.
Today, from the minds and studies like that of Benjamin Franklin, man has proved and gained a scientific explanation for lightning. What was once thought caused by only the Divine, can be now known as discharges of atmospheric electricity between clouds or clouds and the earth. Past beliefs of lightning, like many other thoughts about natural forces, are slowly moving into the realm of only the arcane.
These older understandings, once commonly known and taught, can be realized in various ways. One example is seen in the form of an old game published in 1860 by McLoughlin Bros. called Grandma’s Game of Useful Knowledge. This trivia style game, played by families, included every day type questions which players competed to correctly answer. In the game, the following question is found:
A small threaded booklet provides the answer; “it cools and purifies the air.”
This purpose for lightning shares the generally held belief for the time. Although, Franklin and others had proved lightning was a form of electricity in the mid 1700’s, previous ideas remained.
Aware of this line of thought, one can better appreciate the symbol applied to the Tree of Life. In the system of Cabala, the diagram of the Tree of Life symbolizes God flowing down to man and a way for man to reach back up. This path, connecting the ten sephirot and revealing different attributes of God, is called the Lightning Flash.
It is believed in order to know the full knowledge of God; one must work through this ‘lightning.’ As it was believed to purify, it can easily be connected to the Bible verse of Matthew 5:8, which states, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
The symbolic use of the lightning flash on the Tree of Life has also been called the flaming sword and linked to the flaming sword mentioned in Genesis 3:24; “After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”
One can imagine the flaming sword which guards Eden symbolizes the need to pass through a purifying process in order to enter the Garden/Arcadia. In the same way the lightning flash moves through the air and is believed to clean and purify the air, it is believed to move through man (in applying the system of the Cabala) in order to clean and purify the heart.
The flaming sword of the Garden of Eden was placed there by God; just like the lightning flash of the Tree flows down from above. As man strives to reach new understandings through the path of the lightning flash, the changes within will allow him to see God. The understanding of Et in Arcadia Ego (and in Arcadia I go) and I Tego Arcana Dei (Begone I conceal God’s Secrets), indicating change must happen, can relate to this concept. Through the flaming sword which guards the Garden of Eden, man can return to Arcadia.Follow MW on Social Media: